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Mob torches Ahmadi shrine in Pak after blasphemy allegations

Lahore: A mob yesterday torched a place of worship of Pakistan’s minority Ahmadi community after a member of the community was accused of blasphemy, prompting deployment of the army to control the situation.

The mob managed to break through the police cordon which was set up to safeguard the Ahmadi places of worship, following last night’s unrest when an artificial wood making factory was set on fire after one of its employees was accused of committing blasphemy.

Police resorted to baton charging and tear gassing the protesters to bring the situation under control, but were unable to do so and the mob attacked the Ahmadi place of worship at Kala Gujran in suburbs of Jhelum and burnt it.

As tensions rose, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan announced to deploy army to help control the situation. After the arrival of the army contingent, the situation calmed down, with the mob chanting slogans in favour of the army.

The fresh violence came a day after hundreds of people surrounded the factory in Jhelum city and set it ablaze after reports surfaced that its employee, who belonged to Ahmadi community, had allegedly desecrated a holy book.

The mob had surrounded the factory and demanded the factory administration to hand over the employee. When their demand was not met, the protesters torched the factory. A police officer, Noor Muhammad, said that after the night violence fresh announcements were made today from mosques against Ahmadiyyas.

District police chief Mujahid Akbar Khan said that the accused, Qamar Ahmed Tahir, has been arrested. Pakistan’s Ahmadis consider themselves Muslim but were declared as non-Muslims by the Constitution and are also barred from proselytising or identifying themselves as Muslims. Some 1.5 million Ahmadis live across the country.

Rights groups say that Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law has often led to violence and persecution of religious minorities. It is often misused to make unfounded accusations to settle personal scores and disputes.